Front Page Titles (by Subject) TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS. - The Writings of George Washington, vol. VIII (1779-1780)
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TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS. - George Washington, The Writings of George Washington, vol. VIII (1779-1780) 
The Writings of George Washington, collected and edited by Worthington Chauncey Ford (New York and London: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1890). Vol. VIII (1779-1780).
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TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.
The current of intelligence from New York makes the late reinforcement under Arbuthnot amount to about 3,000 troops, principally recruits, and rather in an unhealthy situation. It also speaks of preparations for an expedition, and some recent rumors point to the southern States, though the enemy have thrown out menaces against this post. If the reinforcement does not exceed this estimate, they may not think themselves able to operate effectually this way; in which case, the unpromising situation of their affairs may tempt them to make an effort to get hold of some of the southern States, to conterballance their losses in the West Indies, and favor negotiations in the Winter. They have been for some time past fortifying across New York Island, and it is said are going to erect a strong work at Brookline on Long Island. All this may be, to have it in their power to secure their present posts with a small force, and make large detachments with the greater confidence.1 A part may go to the West Indies, and a considerable number still be spared for the purpose I am supposing; the more so, if Rhode Island, which now become to them a very inferior object, should be evacuated.
An apprehension of the Spaniards may be an objection to this plan; but they may not be deterred by this danger, from the probability that the Spaniards will rather direct their attention to Jamaica than to this continent; besides which, if they have a large force operating in the southern States, it may easily enough be turned to the defence of their own possessions that way; or, if these should be lost, they will be amply compensated by the full acquisition of Georgia and South Carolina, both of which are so weak as to be in no small danger.1 I take the liberty to suggest these hints, as it seems to me to be the part of prudence to be upon our guard against a plan of this nature, and to take every precaution in our power to disappoint its success. By a letter I have received from General Lincoln, his force is insignificant, and his prospects of an addition feeble. No exertions should be omitted to make them better.
Though our force here is far from making a diminution desirable, yet, as I think we have more to apprehend to the southward than in this quarter, if Congress should be of opinion for sending the two North Carolina regiments that way, I should hope they might now be spared without material injury. The distance is a very discouraging circumstance, but the troops shall be in readiness to move the moment the pleasure of Congress is known. I have the honor to enclose the copy of a letter, which I have just received from General Sullivan, and to congratulate Congress on the agreeable and important success it announces.1
I have the honor to be, &c.
[1 ]Sir Henry Clinton had been disappointed in not receiving reinforcements from England, and he wrote, that the operations of the Americans had rendered utterly unsuitable the plan, to which the past movements of the campaign had only been preparatory. “I now find myself obliged by many cogent reasons,” he said, “to abandon every view of making an effort in this quarter. The precautions, which General Washington has had leisure to take, make me hopeless of bringing him to a general action, and the season dissuades me strongly from losing time in the attempt.” His thoughts were now turned to South Carolina, where the season would permit him to act by the 1st of October, and where there was reason to hope for assistance from the inhabitants, though less than at an earlier period of the war. “In order to give the effort a fair trial,” he added, “it is necessary that the corps destined for that service should get there before Washington can throw any considerable reinforcement to the southward; also before any part of the French fleet shall have come upon the coast. I am therefore employing the army to perfect the defences of New York, which at all events must be left out of reach of any insult. I shall then give the enemy every jealousy at the eastward, and, without losing a moment, the expedition will proceed to South Carolina. Having seized on the posts of Verplanck’s Point and Stony Point, with a view to offensive operations in this country, their principal importance will cease when that design is discarded; and, as without great reinforcements, which we cannot expect, nothing of consequence can be carried on again in this quarter, I shall probably abandon those posts; not having troops enough without hazard and difficulty to maintain them through the winter.”—MS. Letter to Lord George Germaine, August 21st.
[1 ]The declaration of Spain against England seems to have given rise to large projects in Congress. A proposition was made to authorize an American plenipotentiary to conclude a joint treaty of alliance between France, Spain, and the United States, on condition that France and Spain should guarantee the Floridas to the United States, and also the free navigation of the Mississippi, Canada, Nova Scotia, and the fisheries. Should this be declined, the plenipotentiary should propose, on the part of the United States, to guarantee to Spain the Floridas, the Bahama Islands, in case they should be conquered, and the navigation of the Mississippi, on condition that France and Spain would guarantee Canada and Nova Scotia to the United States. These points were warmly debated.—M. Gerard to Count Vergennes, September 10th.
[1 ]Giving an account of an action fought against the Indians and Tories at Newtown. See Marshall’s Life of Washington, vol, iv., p. 106.